Organic Seeds

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Planting your Winter Garden in the Summer

Heirloom CarrotsEver wondered when would be a great time to plant a garden you can harvest in the cold of winter? Now! Believe it or not, from now till mid-summer is the ideal time to plant seeds for your fall and winter garden.


If growing a winter garden has piqued your interest, then read up on how to best grow varieties you would like on your winter table. It will be wise to do some research and even check in with your local extension office, as not all varieties will want to be grown now and some will grow better in the fall and others in the spring.


As your spring garden begins to wane and more space becomes available in your garden beds, now would be a great time to begin selecting your favorite cool loving vegetables.   Think Brussels spouts, cabbage, kale, carrots, beets, Swiss Chard, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, celery, radishes and many more!


Keep in mind that protecting your plants from the heat, during the summer months and then protecting them from fall and winter frosts will be the key to a successful winter garden. Integrating cold-frames, row covers and clotches might be the perfect solution to extending the seasons and protecting your crops.


When deciding what to plant, think of the varieties that take the most time to mature and plant those now, while plan to seed those varieties that are fast to mature and plant those later in the season. Take into account the amount of time needed before transplanting and harvesting, this in addition to, noting plants sensitive to frost is something to consider. Lastly, taking into consideration fall factor is key to success! Fall factor represents the change in pace plants take as they move into the dark of the year.


When thinking of what you want to enjoy on those cold winter days, its important to work backwards when planning your garden. Take into account the following:


  • The amount of days from planting to transplanting
  • Incorporate the average number of days till maturity
  • Tack on an extra couple of weeks to account for the fall factor


= The number of days to count backwards for prime winter garden production


It is important to take extra care of your seedlings as they emerge. Keeping them in areas that hover around 85 degrees or below is important to make sure they are not being scorched. Some of our mini-micro climates in our yard or patios can quickly reach high temperatures. An easy solution would also be to start your seedlings inside and transplant after they have reached about an inch or so in height.


Keep in mind that mulching your garden beds now, like any other time, is only going to benefit water retention, weed suppression, added organic matter and enhanced fertility.


Succession planting is another excellent planning method to help you arrive at a continuous harvest. Keep track of your planting days on your garden calendar or journal. Keeping good notes, year after year, will ensure that you are learning from your mistakes and making the most of each season!


Take the opportunity, our entire inventory is 35% off till July 7th, 2015. Use the coupon code: “SUMMER”.



Save Water Plant a Garden!

starting-to-garden-glovesCalifornia is in its 2nd year of a historical drought. Although,our state has naturally moved through cycles of drought and abundant rain, over the past many decades, its still disconcerting that we have not had a storm for a couple of months.

Gardeners, farmers and concerned citizens a like are taking drastic measures for conserving water from tearing out lawns to integrating water saving technology and even abstaining from planting their spring gardens.   Unfortunately, the latter does little if anything, to actually conserve water. Those choosing to refrain from putting a garden in are generally still purchasing the same produce, they would be growing, from a supermarket.   Big ag accounts for 70% of the world’s water use and much of that is wasted in inefficient practices. Some of those practices include overhead watering, washing produce before and after shipping, transporting food across state and international borders and disposing of food aesthetically not marketable.

With new emergency water conservation regulations, set by the State, Californians are feeling the need to not plant a garden. Yet, a home gardener and even a small-scale farmer can grow food efficiently, while using a minimum amount of water. Integrating simple solutions can make the difference between enjoying fresh garden veggies out of the garden or compromising for store bought. Consider heavy mulching, planting more drought tolerant varieties, experimenting with dry-farming, use smart watering strategies, reuse shower and cooking water to irrigate, use intensive planting practices and plant varieties with similar water needs together.

Eliminating weeds, may seems like gardeners’ protocol, but many gardeners also make peace with their weeds and use a more zen approach to plants that are in the wrong place. But the reality is that some weeds, like lambs quarters and crab grass, are responsible for consuming 80 gallons of water to create 1 pound of plant tissue – that is a staggering number! Integrating weed control with heavy mulching can go a long way in water conservation tactics, conserving as much as 1 inch of water per week.

By integrating low-tech water saving technology in homes, such as low flow showerheads and aerators and expanding that to the garden with low-flow watering wands, rain barrels and drip irrigation, saving water while having a thriving garden couldn’t be easier.  Best of all California is offering a lot of financial incentives for water conservation.

With new rebate programs, homeowners can integrate solutions such as:

Laundry-to-landscape system components

  • Rain barrel
  • Pool covers
  • Hot water recirculation systems

By growing your own food you can control the amount of water used and limit water waste.   By doing a little research and some minor adjustments, gardeners can still grow an abundant garden year round!  Best of all dry farming practices add more flavor while using drastically less water – what a concept Less water more flavor! All these simple practices can make a big difference in the bigger picture.  It’s now all of our responsibilities to conserve every drop!



Seed Saving for a Delicious Future

Printed in Pacific Horticulture Magazine

Pacific Horticulture Seed Saving_Page_1Pacific Horticulture Seed Saving_Page_2Pacific Horticulture Seed Saving_Page_3

Valentine’s Day Seed to Table Dinner – SOLD OUT!

Valentine's Day Seed to Table DinnerFor More Information email

Point Reyes Station’s Living Seed Bank

The LightBUSINESS: Astrid and Matthew Hoffman began growing and selling heirloom seeds through their business, the Living Seed Company, in 2011. The former interior designer and puppeteer met at the Solstice Grove Institute in Nicasio, where they butted heads before teaming up.


Husband-and-wife team Matthew and Astrid Hoffman are seed farmers and distributors who live in a large house with bright blue siding that sits across the street from Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station. Their home—which they rent from a longtime Point Reyes resident who helps them package seeds—is the base of operations for the Living Seed Company, the couple’s nascent seed-saving business, and during the busy packaging seasonthe whole house transforms into an office space strewn with seed packets and boxes filled with produce they’ve grown from the seeds they’ve saved, such as peppers and (surprisingly) watermelons.“It’s pretty much just Matthew and myself,” said Astrid, who ran an ecological interior design company in Santa Monica prior to launching the Living Seed Company. “We hired a designer to do our website and we bring on seasonal volunteers, but we’re the two more-than full-time people in the company.”

The Living Seed Company is a local seed growing and vending business and online retailer that the Hoffmans created in 2011 to support themselves as a family and to promote sustainable seed-saving practices. The company also runs seed-saving education workshops and donates seeds to schools, farmers markets, libraries, correctional facilities and community gardens.

At the operational level, Astrid is in charge of the company’s in-house responsibilities: day-to-day administration, accounting, marketing, public and vendor relations. Matthew oversees the entire seed production, which encompasses the half-acre backyard load and two larger sites at Black Mountain Ranch.

“We’re trying to find a way to live and farm here in West Marin,” said Matthew, who grew up farming with his family in rural Wisconsin and worked as a giant puppeteer for Puppet Farm Arts. “We’re a young company focused on the greater good for the Bay Area. It’s definitely a dream to be in Point Reyes. Farmers are heroes here.”

Aside from saving seeds from their local stock, the Hoffmans coordinate with other growers along the West Coast and with some in the Midwest. The couple selects sources from a cream-of-the-crop vendor list that was given to them by a mentor whom they met while attending a weeklong seed school.

“There is a very delicate dance between knowing what to stock and how to prepare for the growing season,” Matthew said. “We’re fortunate to know we have high-quality seeds. Not all seeds are grown in climates similar to ours. It’s like the food movement: know your seed farmer.”

Living Seed is one of many regional seed growing organizations that have signed the Council for Responsible Genetics’ Safe Seed Pledge, by which buyers and sellers agree they will not knowingly trade in genetically modified or engineered seeds. Founded in 1983, the nonprofit council conducts research on genetics issues and provides a network for the non-G.M.O. seed market.

“Too often the conversation is limited to whether G.M.O. products are safe or not,” said Jeremy Gruber, the president of the Cambridge-based council. “The truth is that we just don’t know. There have been a number of studies, but there have been no long-term studies done that look at the effects of G.M.O.s over many years. Unfortunately, we live in a country that allows G.M.O. proliferation while studies are still being done.”

High-profile G.M.O. corporations like Monsanto have attracted media attention by their fierce lobbying to control product labeling rights and make it harder for the general public to know whether or not their food has been genetically modified. Meanwhile, since the 80s and 90s, these companies have slowly swallowed up small bioregional seed companies and, in doing so, have greatly reduced seed varieties.

“After thousands of years of seed-saving practices, there has been a huge shrinkage of available seed stores,” said Matthew, who believes fewer seed varieties put communities at risk by the possibility of climate change wiping out one or two predominant strains. “The future is moving back to smaller food systems. Seed saving allows people to adapt their seeds to their environment, so that the seeds become more resilient. It’s a process that takes years, but it’s important for regional food security.”

Unlike companies that produce hybrid G.M.O. seeds, Living Seed only sells what are known as “heirloom” seeds. All heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, which means they grow to produce offspring similar to their parent plants. This practice plays a key role in seed-saving techniques that, according to the Hoffmans, could over time restore seed variety, resilience and security.

“The miracle of a seed is pretty wonderful,” Astrid said. “Even though we’ve lost a lot over the past century, the opportunity is still there to create new heirlooms. Seeds are such intelligent beings, aware of where they are and adapting constantly.”

Like the seeds they grow, the Hoffmans have also had to adapt to changing conditions. The two met at the Solstice Grove Institute Program, a long-term environmental residency in Nicasio, where the couple butted heads at first but eventually found themselves talking about marriage and raising a family. The couple hopes to one day teach their children how to grow seeds, keeping the cycle of seed farming alive in West Marin.

To date, the Hoffmans have financed Living Seed through a variety of their own funds and loans from family and friends. Now, the company is in the midst of a two-week Kickstarter campaign (which was chosen as staff pick by Kickstarter within five minutes after launching). The Hoffmans have until Dec. 17 to raise $15,000.

Funds raised will go toward updating the seed packet image and revamping the website’s shopping cart feature, as well as streamlining office functions so that both Hoffmans can spend more time growing and breeding local seeds.

To pledge to the Living Seed Company’s kickstarter campaign please visit…

Seed of the Week | Lemon Cucumber

Lemon Cucumber

Every week we are going to introduce a Seed of the Week, where we are going to select one seed to highlight.  We will share the historical attributes, the story that makes this variety an heirloom and why we love it so much!

This unique, pretty cuke is prized by gourmet chefs for its delicate flavor and crisp flesh.  Deriving its name from its yellow skin, shape and size.  An old heirloom that is sure to still please the discriminating cucumber lover and is easy to digest.

This one is easy to grow, works well in containers, and is extremely productive. Best when harvested young. Great for slicing, salads, on sandwiches and makes delicious pickles!

Please meet … Lemon Cucumber

A perfect vegetable to plant now and enjoy towards the end of summer – a perfect time to cool with cucumber water or salad!  Best of all?  It’s on sale, for only $1.50 – time to eat cucumber

The Giving Seed Program

Denver Urban Gardens

The Living Seed Company believes everyone should have access to vital, pure, open-pollinated seed varieties and through their The Giving Seed Program, seed donations have been sent to Haiti, India, Africa, Europe, South America and throughout the United States.

Over the past three years, The Giving Seed Program has given away over 4,000 packets of fresh heirloom seeds to school garden programs, inner city youth programs, community gardens, seed libraries, food banks, correctional facilities, veteran programs and others.  The Living Seed Company also covers the cost of shipping.

We take recommendations for seed donations, feel free to email us at  Interested in donating to our program?
Donations can also be made by calling us at 415.663.8002 or by sending a check to:

The Living Seed Company

P.O. Box 177

Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

India Donations

Women’s Earth Alliance Seed Donation India

The Giving Seed Program began with a vision to give back to our local, national and global community.  We kicked it off with donating a collection for every ten collections sold.

Today, aside from giving away collections, we are also giving away individual packets suited to particular growing regions and community needs. 

 The Living Seed Company also gives out Basic Saving Booklets to encourage and support communities saving seeds and adapting them to their bio-regions.

A Few of our Donation Recipients

Inner City Coalition

Inner City Coalition

  • Seed Lending Library | Steamboat Springs, CO
  • N.W. Regional Correctional Facility | McChord, WA
  • Denver Urban Gardens | Denver, CO
  • Mill Valley Seed Library | Mill Valley, CA
  • Hunters Point Family Girls Program | San Francisco, CA
  • The 4-H Auerfarm | Bloomfield, CT
  • Youth  Over the Rhine | Cincinnati, OH
  • AgriCorps | San Jose, CA
  • Opportunities Over the Rhine | Cincinnati, OH
  • Capital District Community Gardens | Troy, NY
  • Comida del Bosque | 4 Corners
  • The Institue of Ag | Steamboat Springs, CO
  • Huichol People | Mexico
  • Idaho Plant a Row  | Coeur d’Alene, ID
  • Church Living Stone Baptist | Chesterfield, VA
  • Alfred Community Garden | Alfred, NY
  • San Quentin Correctional Facility | San Rafael, CA
  • Alder Ave School | Egg Harbor Township, NJ
  • The Neighborhood Farm Initiative | Washington DC


Thank you so much for your seed donation and for what your company is doing to save these valuable seeds.                         M. Fay

We are so appreciative of your generosity in choosing DUG as the recipient of a seed donation. Your donation means so much to the gardening community in Denver. Thank you!                                                                                                                           J. Romer  

We are greatly appreciate your effort and helping us with the seeds program for Haiti.  Again many thanks May God richly bless you.                                                                                                                                                                                               Pastor J. M. Etienne



Seed of the Month | Cosmic Purple Carrot


Every month we are going to introduce a Seed of the Month, where we are going to select one seed to highlight.  We will share the historical attributes, the story that makes this variety an heirloom and why we love it so much!

This stunningly beautiful vegetable is now sought after by chefs and home-cooks for its radiant colors, delicious taste and enhanced health benefits.  Purple Carrots have been grown in since 900 A.D. in Afghanistan, Turkey and Middle East, but this incredible carrot was only Introduced in 2005.  Dr. Philipp Simon and staff at the USDA  in Madison, Wisconsin, bred a whole new spectrum of  colored carrots, stay tuned for more of those varieties!

The Cosmic Purple Carrot adds a punch to any meal, whether enjoyed raw or cooked.  Grate it in a salad or on the side, add some lime juice and relish in the crunch while enhancing your meal with a sweet spice!

Please meet Cosmic Purple Carrot

An amazing colored carrot, Cosmic Purple on the outside and brilliant orange and yellow on the inside.  A delicious sweet and spicy flavor that kids of all ages will love!  This one is a favorite!

Purple has always been a sign of royalty and now purple vegetables are a sign of health. Rich in phytonutrients, this vegetable will add more than just beauty to your meal, it will enhance your overall well-being!

4 Reasons Why Heirloom Seeds Should Have a Superiority Complex

Written by: Kirsten Hudson for Organic Authority

heirloom carrots

Handed down through generations, heirloom seeds offer a taste of the past. Often described as “open pollinated” seeds that have a long history, heirloom seeds can make for a diverse and downright gorgeous, organic garden. Like a family keepsake, these seeds offer something precious. Once planted, they’ll bloom into a one-of-a-kind fruit, vegetable, herb or flower that hasn’t been tainted by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or pesticides.

Modern hybrids, which are created by crossing two selected varieties, often produce infertile plants. But heirlooms will yield the same plant year after year, which means you can always save the seeds for next year’s crop. Heirlooms also offer a connection with history. Essentially, you’ll be eating the same plump tomatoes that your ancestors enjoyed.

So, what else makes these vintage seeds inherently superior?

Timeless taste

Many hybrid fruits and vegetables have been bred to produce more crop, or to resist certain diseases and insects. Unfortunately, these “features” often sacrifice taste in the process.

Plants from heirloom seeds weren’t designed to be carted across the country or hoarded in cold storage for weeks, like many commercially grown fruits and vegetables. Instead, heirlooms were carefully selected for their flavor. After all, who wants to go out to their backyard garden and pick a bunch of carrots that taste like cardboard?

And once you’ve tasted a juicy heirloom tomato, it’s unlikely you’ll ever think the same about a supermarket tomato again.

Amped up nutrition

With heirlooms, taste and nutrition go together. You can’t get much fresher than just picked-off-the-vine or pulled-from-the-dirt fruits and veggies—and that means maximum nutrition.

Hybrids, however, have been bred for certain traits—such as producing higher yields—that sacrifice nutritional content in the process. The traits that make carrots, potatoes and other produce uniform in size and faster growing can also mean a lower quality food.

Hodgepodge variety

Heirloom fruits and veggies come in an all-out medley of kooky shapes, colors and textures. From deep red carrots to wonky-shaped tomatoes to bright pink bananas, you just can’t get the same fun variety from hybrid fruits and vegetables.

Contribute to the cause

By choosing to plant heirloom seeds, you’re participating in a mission to diversify our food supply and preserve cultural history. As commercial growers increasingly opt to only plant a small variety of species, we’re losing genetic diversity in our seeds, and therefore our food. This can potentially compromise the nutritional value of our food, lead to issues with soil in farming and potential food blights. Couple that with the increasing GMOs introduced into our produce and it’s a potential recipe for disaster… convinced yet?

Want to take part in the tradition?

Several organizations offer GMO- and pesticide-free heirloom seeds. Browse their catalogs and get excited for this year’s garden!

image: khawkins04

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudson

This article was originally published on Organic Authority, an organic living online magazine. View the original article.

Following the Sun – Container Gardening 101

Want to have a garden, but don’t have the space?  Fret not, container gardens are the solution to the woes of urbanites and farmers alike.    Aside from having the ability to produce a significant amount of food within a limited space, container gardens allow you to have full control of what going into your soil.  This could be an easy solution for folks that may not know their soil quality while also protecting your crops from soil-borne pests.  The fact that your garden would be raised also helps with pesky garden critters. It is also a wonderful idea for students and other young people that move often and are hesitant to grow a garden that they will end up leaving the following year, they can simply take their garden with them!

Containers also solve the problem if your garden is lacking sunlight, if your containers are on castors, you can easily wheel them as they follow the sun.  This type of gardening also knows no boundaries, literally.  I have seen full-grown fig, lemon and an assortment of other fruit trees flourishing in wine barrels!  The idea is to do a bit of research and give your plants the room and light they need to grow.  Some vegetables may be compromised if their container is too shallow, such as deep setting root vegetables.  This method of gardening allows you to grow food anywhere from your porch, to your balcony to the sidewalk and even your rooftop!  Take advantage of the vertical space in your container and add trellises, teepees or wire cages.

It is a solution that allows for maximizing productivity and creativity …. containers can be upcycled from old basins, bath tubs, wheelbarrows, wagons, baskets, chairs, cinder blocks, you name it!  The sky is the limit with what you can use to make your container garden out of.  Best of all, the more unique the vessel, the more outrageous your garden will look!  Some things to keep in mind when you are reusing pieces that have old paint on them, it may have lead and you will not want to use it.  Also, another thing to keep in mind is to remember is to drill sufficient holes for drainage, if not you will drown your plants.  It has been suggested to drill the holes 2″ up on the sides, instead of on the bottom – this allows for a extra moisture retention, just don’t over water your crops!  Knowing how your pots hold or release water will also help you gauge the quantity of moisture necessary.  There are solutions for self-watering, make sure you do sufficient research before you take off for the weekend!  Depending on where you live will determine how moist/dry your vegetables will want to be, consult your local Extension office.

These types of gardens add dimension, texture, color and depth to a garden.  You can specialize each container with specific vegetables or herbs.  Perhaps using a few for companion planting vegetables and others create a medicinal, culinary and spice garden!  Think of all the incredible things you enjoy eating and explore the possibilities of growing them, noting beats fresh food right out of the garden!  Consider researching what plants do well together and which ones prefer to be at a distance.   Take into account the amount of sunlight you have available and note to have a water source near-by, watering on a daily basis is key to a successful container garden.  Our Urban Collection/Small Space Garden is geared for container gardens.  These varieties thrive in variable light and space.  When purchasing your seeds, always purchase them from a reliable source, check out our post on the Renaissance of Heirlooms to learn about why growing heirlooms and using open pollinated seeds is so important.  Now is an ideal time to plant your heat loving crops, from seed, in order to enjoy a late summer and autumn harvesting!  Take this opportunity and dig through your garage or attic, thrift-stores of curb side sales and create your container garden today!

We're dedicated to the preservation of the genetic diversity in our food chain through the distribution and growing of open-pollinated seeds and educating about the life affirming art of seed saving.


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